Chickpeas and spinach are a match made in nutrition heaven.

By Mara Santilli
May 29, 2018
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Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

The zinc in chickpeas helps your body convert the beta-carotene in spinach to vitamin A-another nutrient that plays a role in boosting the antibodies that power up your immune system, says McKel Hill, R.D.N., the founder of Nutrition Stripped. Savor their goodness in a bowl (or two) of this fragrant and spicy soup, a specialty of New Orleans chef Alon Shaya, the author of the cookbook Shaya. (For a vegetarian option, try this chickpea and spinach stew.)

Saffron Chicken Soup with Spinach and Chickpeas

Serves: 8

Active time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour


  • 1 5-pound whole chicken, rinsed and innards removed
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bunches fresh or 1 gallon packaged spinach, stemmed, washed, and chopped
  • 3 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving


  1. In a stockpot over high heat, place chicken in water and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and use a spoon to remove any foam that rises to the top.
  2. Add saffron, bay leaves, and salt to broth and cover pot. Cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and meat is easily pulled off the bone, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken from pot, and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Once cooled, remove all meat from bones and roughly chop. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Using a paper towel, wipe pot clean, then add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place pot over medium heat.
  4. Add ginger, garlic, onion, lemon zest, and mushrooms to pot and cook for about 15 minutes or until onions are softened but not browned. Add spinach and cook until it wilts and the moisture in the pan has evaporated. Add chickpeas, strained broth, and lemon juice, and return to a simmer.
  5. Turn off heat and add chopped chicken back to the pot. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

Nutrition facts per serving: 324 calories, 12 g fat (2.9 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 37 g protein, 6 g fiber, 1,123 mg sodium.